THE COMING OF THE LORD AND JUDGMENT
CHAPTER 17: THE COMING OF
17-1 The Parousia
There is a lamentable amount of unclarity
in our thinking concerning the coming of Christ. There seems
to be the idea that He will come to take us away, invisible to the world,
and then reveal Himself to them after judgment. Associated
with this problem is considerable confusion concerning the Greek word
'parousia', translated " coming" in Mt. 24. This
study aims to show that there is only one coming of Christ, and that this
'parousia' (" coming" ) refers to His literal, visible return.
" The day of Christ" refers both to the time of the believers'
judgment seat in Phil. 2:16, and to the lightning-like
appearing of Christ to the world in judgment in Lk. 17:23,29,30.
The coming of Christ in judgment will be at the same 'day' for both believer
and unbeliever. But what evidence is there that the " day
of Christ" is a period of 24 hours? We must understand that
the meaning of time as we know it will be collapsed around the time of
the second coming (1). It is for this reason that we can only
suggest possible chronological scenarios, of which there are as
many versions as there are Bible students.
Jehovah's pseudo- witnesses have spread
the idea that 'parousia' refers to an invisible presence of Christ.
Some hold that the Olivet prophecy only has reference to the events of
A.D. 70, and in no way to the second coming. Yet in that prophecy
Jesus speaks of His 'parousia'. To say that this refers solely
to His 'coming' in judgment on Israel
in A.D. 70 is to say that the 'parousia' of Christ does not refer to His
literal, visible presence.
In addition to the overwhelming
evidence that the Olivet prophecy does refer to our last days,
the point must be driven home that 'parousia' always refers to
the physical presence of a person. There is another Greek
word frequently translated 'coming' which is more flexible in meaning,
but 'parousia' means 'a literal being alongside', and is always used in
- " As the
lightning cometh out of the east...so shall also the coming ('parousia')
of the son of man be (Mt. 24:27).
- " The day
that Noe entered into the ark...the flood came...so shall also the coming
of the son of man be" (Matt. 24:38,39).
- " Afterward they that are Christ's
at his coming" (1 Cor. 15:23).
- " We which are alive and remain
unto the coming of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15).
The other uses of 'parousia'
are also concerning the Lord's second coming, often in the context of
judgment: 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1,8;
James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28.
The moment of the second
coming ('parousia') is likened to a flash of lightning and the beginning
of rain at the time of Noah's flood. This makes any application
of 'parousia' to the prolonged series of events in A.D. 69/70 at least
tenuous when compared to the obvious application to the moment of the
second coming. There are many links between Mt. 24,25 and
1 Thess. 4,5 which have been tabulated by several expositors.According
to these connections, the Lord's 'parousia' mentioned in Mt. 24 is interpreted
by Paul as referring to the literal second coming (Mt. 24: 30,31 = 1 Thess.
In view of all this,
it is desirable to interpret the 'coming' of the Lord in Mt. 24 as referring
to the literal presence of Christ at His return, although this is not
to rule out any primary reference to the events of A.D. 70.